For the first time on record, the average age of someone moving to the countryside is now under 40. More of us, it seems, are cashing in on our city homes and using the sale proceeds to buy somewhere with more space and a greater sense of community. However, if you want to swap the buzz of the city for the slower pace of the countryside, there are some questions you need to answer first.
In the first of two articles, Susan Ward, a residential conveyancing expert with Mooney Everett Solicitors in Ormskirk, Lancashire, looks at some issues that could affect you when buying a rural home.
How rural do you really want to be?
You may dream of being surrounded by green fields and bucolic cows, but life in the country can have its own challenges.
Generally, there will be fewer amenities or accessing them will be more difficult than in a town. So, check out the practicalities of life in your preferred location carefully. For example, if you rely on public transport, or you may need to in the future, find out how good the local bus service is. If you work from home, or are a serious gamer, then research the actual broadband speeds. Not all rural communities are well served.
For many, the main attractions of living in the countryside are peace and tranquility. However, farm machinery and animals could make that rural retreat noisier than you first thought. Some rural and semi-rural locations may also be affected by heavy traffic from trunk roads or uses such as landfill or quarrying which need to locate outside urban areas. It is important to research any area you are interested in thoroughly. Talk to people who live there and visit it during different times of the day. On balance you may find a larger village, with access to a GP and shop and which is on a regular bus route to town, more suitable than total rural seclusion.
Wherever you decide to buy a new home, discuss any issues that are important to you with your solicitor. They may not be able to guarantee your move to the country will fulfill all your expectations. However, tailoring their conveyancing searches and enquiries can help ensure you avoid some of the pitfalls.
Are you ready for living off grid?
Living truly off grid, generating all your own power needs, is not a realistic option for most of us and your new rural home may not have all mains services. Always check what services it does have, and the basis on which these are provided. Many rural properties rely on overhead power lines, which involve wayleave agreements or easements. These allow utility companies and others rights over land to maintain and repair their equipment. Your solicitor should ensure that your home will have the legal right to connect into the necessary services, as well as checking what rights others may have over your property
Drainage can be another issue. Rural properties often rely upon a septic tank or private sewerage system. These can be an effective alternative to mains drainage provided the system is well maintained. It is important to ensure that you have any necessary rights over adjoining land, and that any discharges into the water course are authorised.